King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Poster Image
Big, loud, violent, but amusing retelling of ancient legend.
  • PG-13
  • 2017
  • 126 minutes
Parents recommend

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 14 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 8 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The story shows the importance of teamwork, believing in yourself, and the difference one person can make to the greater good.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Flawed but courageous characters include Arthur, who always tries to defend the people he loves and cares about; Sir Bedivere, who remains faithful to the original King Pendragon; Goosefat Bill, who's loyal, if trigger-happy; and Arthur's two best friends -- all of whom are willing to stand up to much larger forces to try and save England from a tyrannical, evil imposter king. The mage, a woman, is truthful and brave; she and a maid/spy are the only women in the story with any agency of note. Notable diversity for a movie set in ancient Britain.

Violence

People are killed in various ways: close-range execution (slashing of throat, stabbing), pierced with arrows, hanged, etc. A man disturbingly kills two people he loves as a sacrifice in exchange for dark magical powers. The king's guard kills citizens who are protesting, even children. The king tortures a man before killing him. A powerful mage's forces destroy part of a castle and the guards defending it. Another mage can control a giant snake that kills/eats people.

Sex

Arthur is brought up in a brothel. While no actual sex is depicted, it's clear what goes on there, as various men go into rooms with scantily clad women and leave coins behind or with Arthur. The most that's shown is a man and woman in close proximity or on a bed together, but they're clothed. Two men kiss/embrace their wives farewell during life-and-death situations.

Language

"Arse," "shite," "taking the piss," "bollock/s," "honey t-ts," "bastard," etc. One use of "f--king": "Do your f--king job!"

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adult characters drink in pubs and at meals. A character is drugged/poisoned for spiritual/supernatural purposes.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is director Guy Ritchie's loud, stylized, violent take on the origin story of England's legendary king and the mythology surrounding his magical sword, Excalibur. Starring Charlie Hunnam and Jude Law, the movie includes most of Ritchie's signature touches -- quick cuts, rapid-fire dialog, humor in otherwise violent sequences, and creative strong language. Things frequently get pretty intense: There are several assassinations (some at close range, such as a throat-slashing) and battle sequences that destroy villages, castles, and people. There's a high body count; some of the deaths are bloodier and more disturbing than others. Language is occasionally salty, with one use of "f--king," and adults drink at pubs/meals. Arthur is brought up in a brothel; while nothing more graphic than kissing/lying on a bed with clothes on is shown, it's very clear what goes on there. Underlying the action are messages about teamwork and believing in yourself, and while the characters are flawed, the heroes are courageous and loyal.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byElizabeth A. May 17, 2017

MISSING NUDITY SCENE

This is the third time CSM has missed huge details in the movie, makes me wonder if they watch the whole time... in the scene of the octopus like water witches,... Continue reading
Adult Written byStevie111 May 12, 2017

Fun and interesting King Arthur Film

I loved King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. I thought Guy Ritchie did a fantastic job with it and put his own spin on medieval fantasy films. It has humor, but it... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byevaabrooks May 29, 2017

King Arthur: Did It Deserve The Flop?

Originally when King Arthur: Legend of the Sword was released in cinemas, I wasn't compelled to see it. The trailers seemed a little off putting, consideri... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byJMS12392952 August 13, 2017

Great movie

Okay lets me honest. We have seen this story a lot. This time it is different. King Arthur: Legend of the Sword has great fights, visuals, and some laughs too.... Continue reading

What's the story?

KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD is Guy Ritchie's retelling of one of the world's most enduring myths. It starts with the tale of how King Uther Pendragon (Eric Bana) defeated an evil mage's attempt to overthrow him but then fell to his own brother, Vortigern (Jude Law), who was willing to sacrifice his own wife for the throne. But before Vortigern can kill his young nephew -- Uther's heir, Arthur -- the toddler is saved by a prostitute and brought up in a city brothel. Two decades later, Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) has become a formidable street fighter and protector of his brothel, while Vortigern is a tyrannical leader obsessed with complete control. When the waters part and Excalibur, stuck in a stone, reveals itself, Vortigern sends his guards to force all men of a certain age to attempt to pull it free. Sure of his inability to loose the weapon, Arthur is as shocked as everyone else when he's able to pull it free. Before Vortigern can kill Arthur publicly, a powerful mage (Astrid Bergès-Frisbey) and a group of Uther Pendragon loyalists rescue Arthur and Excalibur and attempt to convince him to lead a coup and take his rightful place on the throne.

Is it any good?

Despite its talented cast and legendary subject matter, Ritchie's "Snatchelot" interpretation of the King Arthur story is too uneven to merit a franchise; but it is, at times, undeniably fun. It's a shame the movie isn't considerably better, because with its internationally appealing ensemble, it would've stood a chance at a decent franchise. Star Hunnam, who's best known for his seven seasons on Sons of Anarchyhas the charisma, gravitas, and physicality of a slightly bulkier, younger Brad Pitt. With his ability to talk fast and convincingly play a high-born prince bred in a low-born gutter, he's well cast.

It's a bit of a mess, but King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is diverting enough, especially for those who are already Ritchie fans (he even has a cameo in a key scene). Audiences who won't mind reveling in the chaos, the occasionally nonsensical plot points, the hammy villains, and the chemistry between Arthur and the beautiful, mysterious "Mage" (watch out for a spoiler regarding her identity in the credits) will have enough to keep them happy. There isn't much here from the classic version of the legend besides some of the names, so you don't need to know a thing about Arthurian legend (in fact, it's best NOT to) to follow along. There have been plenty of worse fantasy reboots, and at least this one has a brag-worthy cast.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the violence in King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. How much of it is necessary to the story? Does stylized, quickly edited fantasy violence have the same impact as lingering, realistic violence?

  • How does this compare to other versions of the King Arthur story you've seen/read? Do you prefer a more traditional adaptation or something like this? Why?

  • For those familiar with Guy Ritchie's other films -- how does this movie feature some of his signature touches? Why do you think it's being compared to Snatch and his other movies?

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